The 20 Best Places to Live

Interesting look at some well known cities and towns across the country.  Not surprisingly, the tech start-up capitol of the world, Palo Alto takes the #5 spot, and has a staggeringly higher median income and median home price compared to the others.

On a side note, I see these “Best Places to Live” articles all the time and the destinations always different, undoubtedly due to the complete subjectivity of the research involved and the the overall bias involved with publishing such an article.

20. Eugene, Oregon

20. Eugene, Oregon

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Located near the McKenzie and Willamette rivers, Eugene is an outdoorsy city with tons of water sports and a health-conscious attitude. The city is also home to the University of Oregon and has numerous performing arts and cultural venues.

Population: 156,222

Median Household Income: $41,525

Median Home Price: $244,600


19. Rockville, Maryland

Rockville is a wealthy city on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. It is home to bio-medical and technology companies, with a 100,000-square-foot library and a popular town square.

Population: 60,960

Median Household Income: $97,667

Median Home Price: $481,700


18. Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City offers a ton of recreational activities for residents, thanks to its proximity to the mountains and ski resorts. The University of Utah lends a lot to the city’s culture.

Population: 186,740

Median Household Income: $44,510

Median Home Price: $240,600


17. Overland Park, Kansas

Livability gave Overland Park, the second-largest city in Kansas, high marks with regards to its sports facilities and schools. The city attracts families and young professionals with a good balance of residential, retail, and office space.

Population: 174,503

Median Household Income: $72,074

Median Home Price: $224,300


16. Santa Barbara, California

16. Santa Barbara, California


Santa Barbara has beautiful beaches, shopping centers, performing arts venues, and microbreweries. It also has a solid healthcare and educational system, with a strong economy thanks to tourism.

Population: 88,572

Median Household Income: $63,758

Median Home Price: $880,500

15. San Mateo, California

15. San Mateo, California

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San Mateo, in California’s Silicon Valley, has a large downtown district with more than 800 stores and restaurants. The city also has more than 15 parks, including the Japanese Tea Garden, along with many historical buildings.

Population: 97,322

Median Household Income: $87,662

Median Home Price: $719,700


14. Bellevue, Washington

Bellevue’s strength is its education, with its highly ranked public schools and the presence of two colleges: Bellevue College and City University of Seattle. The city also gets high marks for its natural beauty, with Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains.

Population: 122,873

Median Household Income: $88,073

Median Home Price: $541,600


13. Ann Arbor, Michigan

13. Ann Arbor, Michigan

Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan and is filled with school pride. The city has more than 300 restaurants located in a 20-mile radius as well as great schools, medical facilities, culture, and more.

Population: 114,725

Median Household Income: $53,814

Median Home Price: $231,700


12. Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville has a strong public school system and healthcare system, with places like Asheville VA Medical Center and Mission Health System. The southern city also hosts tons of attractions with nightclubs, performance venues, and microbreweries.

Population: 83,796

Median Household Income: $42,333

Median Home Price: $195,500


11. Bozeman, Montana

11. Bozeman, Montana / Colton Stiffler

Bozeman is home to the large Montana State University, lending it the college town feel. There are also plenty of options for outdoors activities like skiing and hiking, while the economy is growing with tech- and research-based companies.

Population: 37,619

Median Household Income: $44,818

Median Home Price: $259,000


10. Iowa City, Iowa

Iowa City has a ton of culture, with ties to the literary greats John Irving and Flannery O’Connor. The University of Iowa is also located in the city, which gives it a strong community full of entertainment and the arts.

Population: 68,364

Median Household Income: $42,220

Median Home Price: $181,000


9. Boise, Idaho

9. Boise, Idaho

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With the Rocky Mountains close at hand, Boise is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. But there’s also a home for cerebral types in the “City of Trees,” thanks to unique museums and a strong university system, as well as great healthcare options.

Population: 208,332

Median Household Income: $49,182

Median Home Price: $188,200


8. Missoula, Montana

8. Missoula, Montana

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Thanks to nearby mountains, rivers, and 400 acres of parkland, Missoula provides plenty of entertainment for those who love the outdoors. There’s also plenty of culture as well with breweries, coffee houses, independent bookstores, and music venues.

Population: 66,982

Median Household Income: $39,076

Median Home Price: $238,300


7. Santa Clara, California

Santa Clara is another city located in the booming Silicon Valley. Residents soak up 300 days of sunshine a year and can enjoy the city’s parks, historic architecture, and local Santa Clara University.

Population: 116,301

Median Household Income: $92,198

Median Home Price: $618,600


6. Berkeley, California

6. Berkeley, California

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Aside from hosting the campus of the highly regarded UC Berkeley, the San Francisco Bay town is a foodie haven, landing on Livability’s lists of top 10 foodie cities in 2013 and 2014. The city also has cultural attractions like museums, galleries, and theaters.

Population: 112,662

Median Household Income: $63,505

Median Home Price: $707,700


5. Palo Alto, California

Palo Alto is the center of Silicon Valley and one of the most expensive cities in the country. A 31-mile dark fiber ring around the city provides ultra-high-speed internet access, and there’s an emphasis on education and open spaces, creating a politically active and socially minded population.

Population: 64,514

Median Household Income: $122,482

Median Home Price: $1,000,000


4. Boulder, Colorado

Boulder is situated along the Rocky Mountains with an elevation of 5,400 feet, providing plenty of opportunities for hiking, rock climbing, and biking. Additionally, Boulder has several shopping centers and great restaurants. It’s also home to the University of Colorado, with 31,000 students.

Population: 99,177

Median Household Income: $56,206

Median Home Price: $489,500


3. Arlington, Virginia

Arlington is an upscale city in the suburbs of D.C. with a large population of government employees. It is home to both George Mason University and Marymount University, along with the famous Arlington National Cemetery.

Population: 209,077

Median Household Income: $102,459

Median Home Price: $577,300


2. Rochester, Minnesota

Rochester has a booming arts culture, thanks in part to the founders of the Mayo Clinic, who wanted to attract top physicians to the city. It also has a stable economy, as well as tons of restaurants and shops.

Population: 106,903

Median Household Income: $63,490

Median Home Price: $165,300


1. Madison, Wisconsin

Last year, Madison was ranked No. 5 on Livability’s list, and the city’s mayor worked hard to improve that score and life for Madison’s residents. As the capital of Wisconsin and home to University of Wisconsin, Madison provides its residents with affordable housing, great schools, and healthcare, along with plenty of recreational and entertainment options.

Population: 234,586

Median Household Income: $53,958

Median Home Price: $217,500


Luke McKinley delivers in-depth, local knowledge regarding NW Washington neighborhoods. Luke is proficient in relative-valuation and formerly worked as a strategist for an advertising firm in Santa Monica. If you wish to learn more about your home's worth, please call or email to schedule a free real estate consultation today. You may also visit Luke Buchanan's blog or Facebook, to find additional information that may further guide your real estate decisions. Hobbies include: golf, grilling, image editing, photography, running, skiing, tennis, travel and yoga

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